Jul 17, 2006

You Have To Get A Bill Pay Service

I was working at a new office building today and I snapped a few pictures of the landscaping. There is very little grass used in landscaping here in the desert these days. That is unless you are a complete ignoramus. As you can see this landscaping job consists of desert plants requiring limited water and rocks. The dirt areas are covered with decomposed granite in this development. Watering is accomplished through the use of underground drip irrigation. This minimizes water loss due to evaporation. (click on images to enlarge) Our favorite Uncle Sam knows something about human nature. What he knows is that if he wants to collect the income tax, his best bet is to get the money before the little people get their grimy mitts on it. So we have withholding from our paychecks. You and I know this too. That is why we have our retirement savings deducted from our paychecks before we get them. It is why the credit union likes to take the loan payment from the check. Get it before we do, or suffer the consequences. Would you send in your 401K payment faithfully each month if you had to write a check? Me neither. Here is another technique you might like to try. I have posted before about my credit union's fine bill pay feature. It is made especially good because it is free and you can't beat free. More than free though, the biggest benefit of bill pay is the convenience of theservice. I find it to be a vital step in implementing my overall financial plan. A good financial plan needs to be proactive and this feature is just that. If your plan is to hope you have enough money to pay the bills when they arrive, you are losing the battle. Time to take charge. I recommend that you use Quicken or MS Money to track your checking account. Look back in the archives to read about how I use Quicken, if you like. The short version is that if Quicken is your check register it is dynamic, your paper register is static. You can change things at will and Quicken (or Money) will show you what your balance is a any given time. This is especially useful if you schedule a check to be written in a week or two. You can see your balance based upon your plans. At the beginning of the month make a budget (or at least a list of your bills), outlining all the places you need to spend money this month. It will include a list of all the checks that you will be sending. Online bill paying allows you to schedule the checks when you make the budget and to enter them in your checkbook right then. They still get sent when you ask for them to be sent, but they are now taken care of. It is almost like having your obligations deducted directly from your pay. We all know that not having the money hanging around is a good thing. What is left in the checking account is what you have to spend in cash. You will make better spending decisions this way, trust me. Most people get paid every two weeks and pay some of the bills each time. Do this process twice a month if needed. Those items, such as utility bills, that vary can be scheduled for approximate amounts and adjusted when the bills come in. Plus, the online bill pay services will get your bill electronically for you if you choose. That is one less piece of mail to drag in and open. The only thing that I don't pay online is my mortgage payment because I pay additional principal every month and Chase Mortgage won't allow me to do that online. Unless I pay them a fee, of course. So I write them a check every month. You are probably thinking that you could go ahead and write out the checks at the beginning of the pay period. You could, but believe me when I tell you that having scheduled them to be paid has a powerful psychological effect on your spending. Just an idea. Merle. Things in this blog represented to be fact, may or may not actually be true. The writer is frequently wrong and sometimes just full of it. Tag:

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